The O'Kalem Collection: 1910-1915 (2011)

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2013


Review article by Sara Ross.

In 1910, the Kalem film company sent a small group of filmmakers from New York City to scenic County Cork, Ireland, where they shot the emigrant drama The Lad From Old Ireland, reportedly both the first American fiction film made outside the Americas and the first fiction film made in Ireland. Over the next several summers, director and actor Sidney Olcott, along with scenarist and actor Gene Gauntier, led a varied group of crew members and performers back to Ireland, producing just under 30 films, and earning the nickname 'The O'Kalems'. The Irish film archive has gathered eight surviving films from these trips, most of which have damaged or missing footage, from archives and private collections around the world and they are now available on a two disk DVD set The O'Kalem Collection: 1910-1915, released by the Irish Film Institute and Biff Productions. Also included are a feature documentary about the making of the films, Blazing the Trail: The O'Kalems in Ireland (2011), and an image gallery. Made in the midst of the transition to features, the films include both one reel and multi-reel stories of emigration and Irish history based on original stories or adapted from familiar songs, poems and dramas. The O'Kalem Collection is of considerable interest to film scholars, not only from a variety of historical perspectives but also on the basis of the films' aesthetic merits.

The films in the collection include: The Lad From Old Ireland (1910); Rory O'More (1911); The Colleen Bawn (1911); You Remember Ellen (1912); His Mother (1912); For Ireland's Sake (1914); Come Back to Erin (1914); Bold Emmet, Ireland's Martyr (1915).


Publisher website: